The Grief of Stones
June 26, 2022 12:01 PM - Subscribe

Thara Celehar is back in this direct sequel to Witness for the Dead. As a prelate of Ulis, Thara has the power to experience the last moments of the deceased.

Celehar’s life as the Witness for the Dead of Amalo grows less isolated as his circle of friends grows larger. He has been given an apprentice to teach, and he has stumbled over a scandal of the city—the foundling girls. Orphans with no family to claim them and no funds to buy an apprenticeship. Foundling boys go to the Prelacies; foundling girls are sold into service, or worse.

At once touching and shattering, Celehar’s witnessing for one of these girls will lead him into the depths of his own losses. The love of his friends will lead him out again.

posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit (10 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I have enjoyed both these books, but... honestly Celehar is a real downer of a narrator, which limits my enjoyment. Flat flatter flattest affect. Dude, feel angry, feel sad, feel SOMETHING.
posted by humbug at 1:57 PM on June 26

Yeah, Celehar is so damn repressed and stoic that his books come across as quite flat and almost boring. There's a way to get across great depth of feeling in even a very repressed character, or to make them an unreliable narrator in a way that makes clear they're having a lot of feelings and they're just not admitting to many of them, and Addison isn't doing either of those things.
posted by yasaman at 4:51 PM on June 26 [1 favorite]

Any time she wants to switch the narration to Iäna Pel-Thenhior, I'm 110% here for it! He's a trip. No idea who else could have convinced straight-arrow Thara Celehar to (extremely minor spoiler; I'm holding back the really spoilery bit) break into a building.

Todaro would also be a good viewpoint character, I think.
posted by humbug at 8:26 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]

I had a problem with this book that I can't recall ever having before, and it's that I kept misgendering Celehar as a woman, even though I've read all three books. It was really weird — I couldn't figure out why I felt the character's "voice" (in the third-person narrative) seemed so feminine (or, perhaps more precisely, non-masculine) to me that I kept having mental double-takes as I repeatedly thought of him as female and then corrected myself.

Partly it might be because I've come to prefer protagonists who are women, combined with the fact that Celehar is so reserved. He doesn't have the traits common to a masculine fantasy hero — but I don't particularly care for those traits, especially in male protagonists!

I don't know if this reflects (negatively?) on me and that I've internalized some gender biases. It was a strange experience, though.
posted by Ivan Fyodorovich at 11:54 AM on June 27 [1 favorite]

How much of that is Addison's intentional reversal of gendered name endings -a and -o, do you think?

Like, I completely understood what was going on with that from the very first pages of The Goblin Emperor, but that didn't stop me (steeped in Spanish from a fairly young age, though it's not my first language) from having to consciously avoid misgendering characters now and then. I've reread it so often that its gendered naming system has worn its groove in my head, but the earliest few reads weren't like that.

Not saying this HAS to be it. There's a whole thing where Celehar is acted-upon rather than acting that... out-of-universe is a pretty gendered thing.
posted by humbug at 12:59 PM on June 27 [3 favorites]

I actually loved this book. I wasn't that excited about the last one but I guess Celehar has grown on me. He allows himself so little joy. It's clear from how people react to him that literally every person who even slightly gives a shit about him is pretty worried about him, and he rarely shows any sign that he realizes that. I hope he has a long arc of dozens of spooky mysteries in which he gradually learns to love and accept himself aaaand then realizes he's already in love with Iäna Pel-Thenhior, who has been patiently waiting for him to figure it out. I love me a depressed, competent protagonist. I'm so excited it's clear there is another book on the way.

That said...I loved it in part because it was the nudge I needed to reread The Goblin Emperor for probably the sixth time, which has been a balm for my troubled heart this week. How is that book so comforting??
posted by potrzebie at 10:47 PM on June 27 [6 favorites]

Dunno, but it sure is comforting and I appreciate the hell out of it for that.
posted by humbug at 6:17 PM on June 28 [2 favorites]

I'm just reading this now and... how many days exactly is Celehar going to let go by between receiving a plea for help from clearly frightened and desperate minors and doing something about it? This is bothering me to the point where I'm starting to lose sympathy for the character. Like, what are you doing hanging out at tea shops when a bunch of kids have begged for your help? (I'm assuming the story will let this all work out and not punish him with a "well, turns out that whole thing was actually urgent and some kids suffered major harm while you were faffing around", but ffs, this is frustrating to read!)
posted by trig at 12:55 AM on July 26

Oh no, trig. :(
posted by Literaryhero at 7:52 AM on July 31

I was 15 percent into the book, and found myself saying, "sad, lonely, medium-detective dude, please go see opera boyfriend. Opera Boyfriend clearly sparks joy, a thing which you are sorely lacking. Why have we not talked about Opera Boyfriend? Is he not going to be in this book? I object!" And then, shortly after, he went to the opera. It made me happy.

I appreciated the thematic unity of the story, and hope that the curative power of not despairing comes into play in the next book.
posted by DebetEsse at 4:36 PM on August 27 [1 favorite]

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